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The Development of Public Transport along Grimsby Road

It can be said that due to the ongoing development of Grimsby Road in the 18th century, Cleethorpes played a major part in our local modern day transport services.

Before the development of Grimsby Road, walking on foot along with horse and cart was the only form of transport. However, horse drawn trams soon replaced this old method of public transport.

Cleethorpes Horse Drawn Tram

Horse Drawn Tram in Cleethorpes.

Tramcars were able to carry 30 people at a time and would run on a single track with passing loops. The trams were open topped with a livery of dark maroon and cream. Originally one horse pulled the trams along Grimsby Road, but later two horses were used.

A tram driver would receive 22s for a 6 day week. He would start work at 8:00am and finish at 10:30pm. Payment was made on Saturday night usually in pennies – two hundred and sixty four of them!

Though cars were designed to carry no more than 30 people, on at least one occasion 60 were counted and one local Councillor, on the grounds of cruelty to animals, stopped a horse tram from proceeding on those grounds.

In 1886, under the ‘Grimsby Street Tramway’ (extension order), the tracks were extended along Grimsby Road, from Park Street to Poplar Road. Issac’s Hill was considered too steep for the trams, though later its ascent was accomplished by the addition of a third horse and in 1898, the gradient of the hill was eased for the extension of the line.

In 1897, the Grimsby Council and Cleethorpes urban Council were discussing plans for the electrification of the undertaking, likely to cost in the region of £80,000. An Electric Tramway Committee was formed and Parliamentary sanction sought, and eventually granted. The provincial Company had plenty of money to invest and agreed to pay Cleethorpes £25,000 towards the cost of widening Grimsby Road to take a double track.

The Pelham Road Depot was built as part of the electrification scheme and John Glenn was the designer.

Clee Park Hotel, now Ramston’s Car Park.

Clee Park Hotel, now Ramston’s Car Park.

The first electric car took to the road at 6:15am on Saturday 7th December 1901. The driver was a Mr Clements, (subsequently Inspector) and the undertaking Manager Mr H.L.White. When the first car reached Park Street from the depot, it could not proceed because Grimsby had not switched on its power, but a telephone call by Mr White from the Clee Park Hotel did the trick.

Eight of the old horse trams were eventually put to use as ‘Trailers’ in connection with football matches at Blundell Park and these had long lives.

One of the first electric tram cars.

In 1901, when Cleethorpes ran its own undertaking, there were 20 four-wheeler trams built by Dick, Kerr and Co Ltd of Preston. Each was a double-decker with an open top with reverse stairs, outside springs and trolley head, and they were painted green and cream. Each carried 30 passengers downstairs and 26 on the upper deck. Some time later, tops were added at the Pelham Road Depot.

The railway steamed along the North Promenade with a single-track by 1863, long before the tramways along Grimsby Road. However, in 1903, the railway lost local traffic to the trams and a ‘fare war’ developed between the two companies.

Trams in the depot on Pelham Road in 1902.

Trams in the depot on Pelham Road in 1902.

In 1904, after electrification, the old Park Road premises in Cleethorpes was sold, while the depot in Pelham Road, Cleethorpes became the focal point. It had 8 sheds, was 186ft long and 96ft wide, equipped with an workshops in which some trams were designed and built. It used some 700,000 gallons of water a week in its plant. It also had its own railway siding for coal trains to feed the generators. Mr J.Fereday Glenn became resident engineer.

By 1913, these trams carried ten million passengers a year.

During the First World Ward, services terminated after dusk in case electric flashes from the cars alerted German U-Boats or Zeppelins.

By the 1920’s, good roads into the resort were needed, not only to ease travel for visitors but also to give a good impression as they entered the town. Grimsby Road could only be widened between Bramhall Street and Issac’s Hill during this time due to the existence of built-up frontages. 

Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes, as seen from Park Street, in April 1937

Trams with roof tops running along Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes as seen from Park Street, in April 24th 1937.

Grimsby Road, near Pelham Road. Tram April 1937

Grimsby Road Tram, near Pelham Road. April 1937.






The trams shown in the above picture were in their last days. The date is April 4th 1937, and the whole of the tramway system in our two towns of Grimsby and Cleethorpes had been shut down progressively from 1926, so that only the Park Street to Kingsway section along Grimsby Road and Cleethorpes was left, and this lasted only until July 17th, 1937.

In 1936, Cleethorpes became a Municipal Borough, the first created in Lincolnshire for 500 years. With the arrival of the 1936 Cleethorpes Charter by Edward VIII  (one of only three he granted during his short time on the throne) and the Council becoming Cleethorpes Borough Council, Cleethorpes U.D.C (later Corporation) took over their section of the Great Grimsby Street tramways on 2nd July 1936.

Trolleybus operations by Cleethorpes Corporation began on 18th July 1937, the same time as Grimsby, with a batch of ten A.E.C. vehicles. These then had a deep royal blue livery, with 3 cream bands carried below the upper deck windows, and above and below deck windows. A 1/8 wide line of yellow was carried below the uppermost and lowermost bands, while the Cleethorpes coat of arms was fixed to the front above the towing hatch and to the rear beside the registration plate.

Number 38 was selected to make the very last run on the final day of tramway operations. The following day, trolley buses took over. Most of the old trams were then broken up and the Pelham Road power generators became obsolete.

Electricity supplies were then obtained from the Grimsby Electricity Authority, which, after World War 2, became part of the National Grid. Development of motor services continued hand in hand with the trolleys, which ran entirely on the old tram routes, and many petrol buses were bought and operated. The tram company itself started bus services to Waltham and Caister in 1909 and 1910.

These petrol buses are pictured on Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes near Popular Road (Issac’s Hill) on June 4th 1960.

These petrol buses are pictured on Grimsby Road, Cleethorpes near Popular Road (Issac’s Hill) on June 4th 1960.